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January 11, 2018

Press reports indicate White House listening session to be focused only on reentry issues, not sentencing reform

As noted here yesterday, there are plans for an afternoon meeting at the White House on criminal justice issues.  But, as this new Newsweek article details, it seems that sentencing reform is not going to be part of the discussion.  The article's headline provides the essentials, "Trump and Kushner's Prison Reform Plan Not Expected to Reduce Sentences or Fix Prison Conditions," and here are the details:

President Donald Trump will hold a listening session on prison reform Thursday that will focus on improving prisoner reentry – the process of preparing inmates for release–with a conservative approach, multiple people in talks with the administration told Newsweek.

The session is only expected to include politicians and religious and nonprofit leaders from the right. It is not expected to include discussion on topics like prison conditions or sentencing reform.

In attendance will be three Republican governors who instituted criminal justice reform in their states–Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia, Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas–along with televangelist Paula White, according to Derek Cohen, the director of Right on Crime at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has been in discussions about conservative reentry reform methods with the Trump administration. “All the policy issues we’ve discussed with the administration have a conservative orientation,” said Cohen, who added that prison ministries are crucial to a successful release. “Faith is going to be an integral part of any reentry plan.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Trump administration have discussed cutting government regulation to make it easier for former prisoners to get jobs, Cohen said. Getting rid of restrictions that bar ex-cons from working as barbers, for example, allow inmates to more easily get a job upon release and reduce the likelihood of recidivism, he added.

Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden will also attend the meeting, which he said will be at 1:30 p.m. in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. “Our point of view at Koch is prisoner reentry needs to begin at day one of the sentence” and not “60 or 90 days out” from release, said Holden, who had also been involved in the prison reform talks that Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner began last summer. Holden added that mental health and drug treatment, along with vocational training, need to happen inside prisons so inmates are prepared for life outside when they are released.

“I’m delighted that the president has made this a priority,” said Pat Nolan, director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, which has also been in prison reform talks with the Trump administration. “I’ve been working since 1996 to help build a conservative movement in criminal justice reform, and this is a very important turning point.” Cohen and Nolan will not be at the Thursday session, but others from their organizations are attending....

Kushner’s Office of American Innovation is also working on an apprenticeship plan for released prisoners that could match inmates with employers, according to a conservative leader who has been working with the White House on the reforms, but it’s unclear whether that initiative will be announced Thursday.

Excluding organizations that are seen as liberal, like the ACLU or the NAACP, and leaving out sentencing reform was necessary to gain the support of “old guard conservatives” like U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who will also attend the meeting, the conservative leader said. “Reading the tea leaves, I think what they’ve done is sat down with Mr. Sessions and got him to agree to part of the reforms,” said the conservative leader, who requested anonymity in order to freely discuss the issue. He added that he expects White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to attend and that Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta came to previous meetings on the issue.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday evening.

Recent related post:

January 11, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink


Cue the clip from Arrested Development where Michael opens the bag labeled dead dove.

Posted by: Guy Hamilton-Smith | Jan 11, 2018 9:03:38 AM

Reentry problems are remedied by the Wired magazine article of 2015. Make $250,000 with a business of one's own. That is as good as drug dealing, without the risk of being murdered before age 30.

The felon wins. The store wins by reducing volume, and perhaps getting a receipt from a non-profit. The landfill wins by reducing volume of complex toxic devices, avoid runoff into the water aquifer. Poor people buy cheap, new, working stuff for a pittance.

In the Comments to the article, a store manager objected to the risk of injury and getting sued by the dumpster diver. Local ordinances can mandate new items be left outside the dumpster for pic up. State law should immunize stores from any claim of injury from this activity.

This brings up, the biggest obstacle to re-entry, fear of litigation for negligent hiring, by the vicious tort bar. The lawyer profession must be curbed for any re-entry scheme to succeed.


Posted by: David Behar | Jan 11, 2018 9:26:37 AM

Whether sentenced to 314.16 days or to life ...
Prisoners eat meals every day 🙄

➡️IF roaches and rodents are crawling through and urinating/defecating into the prisoners’ food ,
➡️AND the administration is ignoring the issue ;
➡️THEN those are serious problems 😡👎🏿

Why waste time , $$$$$ , and assets , on forcing current administration to do what needs and ought to be done , when replacing staff who will do their jobs is less costly and quicker 🤔❓

Respectfully submitted,
Nemo ☠️ Me ☠️ Impune ☠️ Lacessit

Posted by: Docile the Wimpy Terrorist In OR | Jan 11, 2018 3:49:29 PM

Only filthy, pro-criminal, rent seeking, lawyer swine on Trump's panel. No one is there to zealously represent the interests of crime victims.


Posted by: David Behar | Jan 11, 2018 11:46:05 PM

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